the pros and cons of “gamification”

Slashdot has a post on gamification in the workplace today.

One of the myriad replies was from a poster, gomoX, who was pushing his company’s gamified tech support tool ( I’m all for product placement and pushing when it’s relevant (and here it most certainly was), but I don’t like the general concepts in that particular tool.

gomoX started well, too:

Bad system:
* 10 points for solving a ticket
* 1 point por replying to a ticket
* 4 points for chipping into another tech’s tickets (allegedly to help out)
* -20 points for reopened ticket
* -100 points for SLA missed

but then goes into describing (and then having shredded by many responders) their “Good system”:

* 1 point for solving a ticket
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those tickets
* -100 points for SLA missed
* 200 points bonus for doing 10 5-star tickets in a row
* 1000 points bonus for doing those 10 5-star tickets in a row in less than one hour

It even starts to become fun! And if you plug gamification throughout the whole system, even this (taken from a “Knowledge Week” quest that lasted through a specific week in an InvGate Service Desk instance):
* 10 points for creating a Knowledge Base article
* 15, 10, 0, -10, -20 points for 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-star customer ratings on those articles
* 20 points for having the article you created used by other techs to solve a ticket
* 50 points for having the article you created used by customers to figure out the ticket themselves

I’ve written in the past about support organizations, and have a guide on effective support cases available, too. And I stand by my previous assertions that “gaming” and the metrics mindset are a Bad Thing™ – when they’re the BASIS of management reviews, promotions, etc.

The big problem with the InvGate concept is stated so cheerfully, I had to read it twice:

You get a performance metric in the amount of points an agent gathered during a period of X … It even has a “ka-ching” sound effect when you get points!

Seriously? a ‘”ka-ching” sound effect’? Who does this encourage? Certainly not any of the professionals I’ve ever worked with!

Maybe there are groups for which this would work – but none that I would want to deal with over anything important or business critical.

There are ways in which gentle, informal “competition” can be a Good Thing™ … but those are few and far between in the professional environment of support work.

A friend of mine pointed me at a [potentially] NSFW site with “badges” you can earn that was pretty funny (excluding the cussing).